Gordon Murray T.50: new details of 650bhp, 980kg supercar

Published: 29 May 2020

► 100 cars at £2 million each
► 650bhp of nat-asp V12 power
► Only 980kg, and has a fan!  

Gordon Murray has released a little more information about his forthcoming T.50 hypercar, this time focusing on its weight. At 980kg, it'll be one of the lightest cars on the road – but with 650bhp – it'll also have one of the best power-to-weight ratios. 'In the T.50, every 100hp only has to propel 150kg of car, whereas for the typical supercar the weight it has to propel is 40% higher, at 210kg.

This has meant every area of the car has been subject to a strict weight-saving process. The Cosworth V12 at the centre of the T50 weighs less than 180kg, making it more than 60kg leaner than the BMW-derived V12 of the F1. But it also makes more power. 

The T.50’s six-speed Xtrac 'box is 10kg lighter than the McLaren F1’s and the pedal box is 300g lighter. What's more, the body panels themselves and the monocoque weigh in at a total of less than 150kg.

'Designing a lightweight sports car does not come from specifying exotic materials alone,' says Murray, 'it comes from a state of mind, from absolute focus and control, and from a deep understanding of lightweight, optimised design.

'Today, the enjoyment of driving has been lost as so many supercars only come ‘alive’ at the upper-ends of their performance capabilities. Chasing a top speed only adds weight (notably through ever-more powerful engines), so the future of true performance cars lies in shedding weight intelligently.'

A driveable prototype of the T.50 is on track to be ready by September 2020.

Gordon Murray T.50: everything you need to know

History is repeating in the best possible way. The phrase, so often used as a sombre warning on the perils of dumbly heading down the same well-trodden road to catastrophe, is this time cause for jubilation. Gordon Murray, he of the rule-stretching and awesomely successful Formula 1 cars and the majestic McLaren F1 road car, is working on a sequel – a carbon-tubbed, turbo-free, V12 three-seater designed from the ground up to weigh next to nothing and deliver the purest, most engaging driving experience since his last, spectacular crack at the same high-performance puzzle.

'It's always annoyed me that no one has done an F1 since the F1,' says Murray, aware that the sentiment could be construed as a lack of modesty. 'I know it sounds big-headed but nobody's done a pure, lightweight, focused driver's car since – the T.50 will be better in every way.'

The F1, you'll recall, married Murray's flair for original engineering and packaging with McLaren's composites expertise and BMW's naturally-aspirated V12. It seated three people and, for all its searing speed, was refined like a GT, with luggage and air-con. It wasn't conceived as a track car – but won the Le Mans 24 Hours outright nonetheless.

Gordon Murray T.50 sketch

In broad terms, the T.50 shares much with the F1. A carbonfibre tub encloses the three-man cockpit. Like every single component on the T.50, the chassis is bespoke and optimised to the car – the key to hitting Murray's target weight of just 980kg. How, when a McLaren 600LT weighs more than 1200kg? 'Most cars suffer from committee decisions and carry-over parts. You can't get a car under 1000kg unless you start with a clean sheet of paper. There isn't a single carry-over component on the T.50.'

The T.50 is neither turbo nor hybrid (there's a 48-volt generator, powering the T.50's 400mm fan – the key to its Brabham BT46B-inspired aero. Instead it uses a new V12 from Cosworth (supplier of the far bigger V12 for Aston's Valkyrie) capable of revving beyond 12,000rpm. 'It'll be the lightest V12 ever built – 60kg lighter than the F1's BMW engine – as well as the highest revving,' says Murray.

All 100 T.50s will be built in 2022. 'Given the costs, this could be the last great analogue supercar,' muses Murray. 'I've driven all the latest supercars. They're fantastic, but they don't involve you in any way, shape or form. Get back into an F1 and the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. T.50 will do the same.'

The aero

After a splurge of specs and a rather detailed sketch, we now have real pictures and spec details of Gordon Murray’s latest supercar. Well, an official rendering of one, at least. 

As shown by the sketch, the new car is dominated by a 400mm ground-effect fan, but the rest is par for the supercar-course. Interestingly we can see bits of McLaren F1 DNA along with some Ferrari – and perhaps a little McLaren Longtail, too… 

Alongside the picture we’ve also got more information about how the complex ground-effect aero the T.50 has will work. It's been developed using Racing Point F1 team's windtunnel using 40% models, and comes with a six settings, all conducting the car’s moving aerodynamic surfaces.  

Auto mode responds to driver inputs, while Braking mode doubles the level of downforce using the fan – and deploys the rear aerofoils like an airbrake. This shortens the braking distance of the T.50 by 10 metres. 

High Downforce mode will increase the amount the car sis forced onto tarmac by 30% – so ideal in twisty bits, while Streamline mode reduces drag by 10%, eases off the downforce and increases top speed and fuel consumption. Underbody ducts are shut, and the fan increases the trailing wake of the car, creating what Murray calls a ‘virtual longtail.’ 

Finally a V-max mode works just like Streamline mode, but takes top speed over consumption and gives the car a 30hp boost using the 48V starter motor. 

The engine

Murray has confirmed that a new Xtrac six-speed manual transmisison is being developed to handle the 650bhp and 332lb ft output of the Cosworth V12. It's going to be quite an engine: 'Put simply, the bespoke engine in the T.50 supercar will be the highest-revving, highest power density, lightest and fastest-responding naturally-aspirated V12 ever made for a road car,' say its makers. That's fighting talk.

The gearbox (below) is designed in Thatcham, Berkshire, and is promised to be a 'highly tactile connection between driver and the T.50, the transmission calls on the full spectrum of Xtrac’s high-performance vehicle and motorsport experience.'

Stirring it will be required to keep the 3.9-litre Cosworth V12 spinning at near its extraordinary 12,100rpm redline.

X-Trac gearbox details of Gordon Murray T.50 supercar

By CAR's road test team

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